Effect of Natural Osmolytes on Recombinant Tau Monomer: Propensity of Oligomerization and Aggregation

Sharif Arar, Md Anzarul Haque, Nemil Bhatt, Yingxin Zhao, Rakez Kayed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pathological misfolding and aggregation of the microtubule associated protein tau (MAPT), a full length Tau2N4R with 441aa, is considered the principal disease relevant constituent in tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with an imbalanced ratio in 3R/4R isoforms. The exact cellular fluid composition, properties, and changes that coincide with tau misfolding, seed formation, and propagation events remain obscure. The proteostasis network, along with the associated osmolytes, is responsible for maintaining the presence of tau in its native structure or dealing with misfolding. In this study, for the first time, the roles of natural brain osmolytes are being investigated for their potential effects on regulating the conformational stability of the tau monomer (tauM) and its propensity to aggregate or disaggregate. Herein, the effects of physiological osmolytes myo-inositol, taurine, trimethyl amine oxide (TMAO), betaine, sorbitol, glycerophosphocholine (GPC), and citrulline on tau’s aggregation state were investigated. The overall results indicate the ability of sorbitol and GPC to maintain the monomeric form and prevent aggregation of tau, whereas myo-inositol, taurine, TMAO, betaine, and citrulline promote tau aggregation to different degrees, as revealed by protein morphology in atomic force microscopy images. Biochemical and biophysical methods also revealed that tau proteins adopt different conformations under the influence of these osmolytes. TauM in the presence of all osmolytes expressed no toxicity when tested by a lactate dehydrogenase assay. Investigating the conformational stability of tau in the presence of osmolytes may provide a better understanding of the complex nature of tau aggregation in AD and the protective and/or chaotropic nature of osmolytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1366-1377
Number of pages12
JournalACS chemical neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 3 2024


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • aggregation
  • cytotoxicity
  • osmolytes
  • proteinase K digestion mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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